The FAQ endorses "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face", but prohibits "catalogues (listing games that fit specific criteria or are like an existing game)". In Was there in-game environment construction, before Infiniminer/Minecraft style placement? , I described a mechanic from a game, and asked if other games had used this mechanic. The question was closed as a catalogue and labelled a game-rec.
Questions like "what are some shooters with bullet time?" should be closed because they spawn small and incomplete lists of games: the site isn't built to handle that. But some open-ended or list-like questions are permissible:
- Which was the first game with bullet-time?
- What was the first ever computer RPG?
- Identify this old PC game - knights/medieval, monsters..
- What are all the games in the "Mama" series?
And then some are not:
What is the difference between the two groups? Here are some rationales provided for closing, or against closing:
- If you're not looking for a specific game, this is less "identify-this-game" and more "game-rec"
- all relevant answers are equally valid by your criteria
- This could possibly be interpreted as a shopping recommendation and must be closed.
- I'm not looking for the best review site without scores - I'm just looking for any site.
- (does it seem like the person is soliciting opinions on what they should play next, directly, or indirectly through a list?)
This suggests that there are no clear criteria for identifying questions as game-rec. This is a problem, because if moderators don't know how to apply the rules, decent or salvageable questions will be closed. Even if questions are closed correctly, if newcomers can't see why their question was obviously off-topic, they'll become annoyed and stop contributing. This has been discussed before, but given the range of rationales above, I don't think the answer is being applied very well.
So, is game-rec a matter of the questions soliciting a non-particular game? What's the right criteria?